New Zealand’s capital city has proclaimed itself the country’s Craft Beer Capital and since up to 50 per cent of craft beer sold in Wellington, that is probably a fair assumption.
The title, however, doesn’t just reflect consumption. Many craft beers are made here too, and they have for many years. The Malthouse, Wellington’s original craft beer bar, has had local ales on tap for 20 years.
The capital plays host to the annual Beervana festival (August 9 and 10, 2013), and now it has a beer trail too, which maps out the best places to stop in for a pint. It’s a workout of sorts, which involves lifting a handle of local beer and then walking to the next establishment to try another ale.
Good places to sample local craft beer include The Hop Garden, Malthouse, Hashigo Zake, Little Beer Quarter, Kelburn Village Pub, D4, Southern Cross, The Tap Haus, Fork and Brewer and The Bruhaus.
A map of the self-guided tour can be downloaded at craftbeercapital.com. Alternatively you can book a Craft Beer Tour with Wild About Wellington tours (www.wildaboutwellington.co.nz).
Wellington craft beers to look out for on the tour include ParrotDog, Garage Project, Yeastie Boys and Tuatara.
Contract brewing company ParrotDog is run by three young guys all called Matt. Their first commercially brewed beer BitterBitch IPA is available on tap in all good craft beer bars around Wellington.
Garage Project started as a beer project in a garage as its name suggests. Garage Project only brew one keg at a time and what they lack in quantity they make for in quality and experimentation. They have also just opened a Cellar Door at its Aro Valley brewery (68 Aro St).
Yeastie Boys has won multiple awards for its “leftfield ales” by Wellington-born “beer activists” Stu McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie.
Tuatara, founded in 2000 by Carl Vasta, has gone from a backyard brew to the 32nd fastest growing company in New Zealand, which says something about the quality of the beer.